For most individuals, using nail polish remover on a cold sore is generally safe and should not cause any long-term ill effects. Those who have never used acetone-based remover should test an area of skin first to ensure a rare allergic reaction doesn't occur. Nail polish remover should not be applied too close to the eyes and it should not be ingested.
Using nail polish remover to treat a cold sore is usually considered a home remedy. Many individuals swear by this method, although there are similar tactics using less harsh substances. The premise behind this treatment is that the polish remover dries out the cold sore more quickly than would occur without using any form of treatment. It is important to perform this remedy correctly to avoid injury or skin irritation.
When using nail polish remover on the skin, it important to use a small amount. It is generally applied using a cotton swab, which can be dipped into the solution and then applied directly to the affected area. This is only recommended for areas of skin that are away from the eyes, genitals, and other sensitive areas. Genital herpes-related lesions, which are similar to cold sores and form due to a similar viral infection, should not be treated this way. This especially important when sores occur on the genitals themselves.
A low-fume polish remover should be used, and treatment should be performed in a well-ventilated area. Hands should be washed thoroughly both before and after treatment to avoid getting remover in the eyes. The mouth should be kept closed during application to ensure that no remover is ingested. It is not a good idea to perform this treatment on a cold sore that is inflamed, oozing, or bleeding. If burning or pain occurs, the area should be rinsed with cool water.
While the risk of complications is low, using nail polish remover on a cold sore is not recommended by any particular medical association or establishment. Sores that do not clear up after a week or that become infected should be examined by a medical professional. Gentler treatments are available in the form of over-the-counter ointments and creams. Toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, and antibacterial ointments can also be used as home remedies to help cold sores heal more quickly.
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, show up as a cluster of tiny blisters or lesions. The incredibly common herpes simplex virus causes these lesions. Most people will contract this virus at some point in their lifetime. Many recover and won’t get another cold sore, but some will deal with recurrences.
An estimated 67% of the population has been infected with the herpes simplex virus. Although it can be transmitted sexually, it can spread by close contact with saliva and mucus.
How To Prevent the Spread of Cold Sores
It can be tough to treat cold sores, so focusing on reducing their spread can be a good offensive tactic to take care of them. Generally, cold sores spread by coming into contact with the bodily fluid of someone that has them.
Avoiding kissing, using the same utensils, and hand washing are the best ways to prevent the spread of cold sores. Anyone with a cold sore should take action and ensure that they aren’t spreading the germs to others.
Infected people need to take care when near infants and children. Kissing and cuddling babies is tempting, but the germs from a burst cold sore can cause severe illness.
Where Do Cold Sores Appear?
Cold sores most frequently appear on the lips and around the mouth, but this isn’t the only place they can pop up. The cheeks, nose, and inside of the mouth are also common places for cold sores to develop.
Cold sores that appear on genitals are different from the cold sores that appear on the face or mouth. A person experiencing sores on their genitals should see a doctor to test for STDs. These lesions can’t be treated with nail polish remover. It’s also easy to mistake other STDs for cold sores.
Cold Sore Symptoms
A cold sore isn’t just unsightly. Unfortunately, they can also be quite uncomfortable, so, understandably, people want to get rid of them quickly. The blisters are often itchy and sore. Sometimes the area where the cold sore appears will be tingly or itchy before the cold sore appears.
The first time a person gets a cold sore can also result in flu-like symptoms. Fever, sore throat, and nausea are all common symptoms of a first-time infection. These are temporary and typically don’t return after the first cold sore.
How Long Are Cold Sores Contagious?
A person with a cold sore should assume that they are still contagious as long as they are experiencing symptoms. This includes any visible blisters or scabbing. Usually, symptoms resolve within a few weeks.
As long as symptoms are still present, people with a cold sore should avoid contact with others that will put them at risk for infection. It’s also vital that the person with the cold sore wash their hands frequently to prevent spreading the disease.
What To Do if Nail Polish Remover Doesn’t Work
Most cold sores will resolve on their own without treatment. If nail polish remover doesn’t work, the person experiencing symptoms can wait it out. Other treatments will help reduce the lesion and discomfort if waiting seems too uncomfortable.
If a cold sore is very bothersome, ice can help reduce swelling and pain in the short term. Pain relievers are also a quick option for easing symptoms.
A professional should treat a cold sore that shows signs of infection. Below are some signs that infection has set in.
- Excessive swelling
- Red streaking
- Heat on or around the cold sore
- Thick pus
- Foul odor
A doctor should examine if a cold sore lasts longer than a few weeks without improvement. There is always the chance that it is not a cold sore or that the patient suffers from an underlying condition that weakens the immune system.
Things To Avoid With a Cold Sore
Sometimes treating a cold sore is more about what should be avoided while it heals rather than what to treat it with. Several things will irritate a cold sore and prevent it from healing.
It’s important to never pick at cold sores or scabs, as it can cause infection and make any pain or itchiness worse. It can also be helpful to steer clear of salty or spicy foods.